Cloth Diapering How-To

How to Wash & Care For Cloth Diapers

How to Wash & Care For Cloth Diapers

Cloth diapers. Where to begin? After you finish answering every random stranger’s mundane questions (so, like, you reuse the diapers?) you can begin to fully embrace the awesomeness that is cloth diapering.

When Eric and I first made the decision that we would without a doubt use cloth diapers on our unborn child (in the baby aisle at Target two years before said child was even more than a thought) I had no knowledge of this non-disposable world. I was just like, these diapers have owl prints! I love owl prints.

So, two years, a wedding, a move across state lines and a house later, here we are. Harper’s poop and everything. And boy does that little girl poop. What I didn’t know about cloth diapering is that there are SO many ways to do it, and of course, so many wrong ways; and being the OCD person that I am, I wanted a foolproof routine for this messy endeavor. Except, and mommyfriends will warn you about this, as soon as you have that precious pooper, your brain (for lack of a better term) poops out on you. As in, forgetting that the letter ‘V’ belongs to the alphabet. Forgetting what day it is. Forgetting your name, etc.

Now here I am with these annoying pocket diapers (why?) and a sinkful of soiled diapers, and the wrong detergent, and I’m like, HELP? The moral of the story is that with some advice from friends and the internet, piece by piece I got my stuff together and got an OCD routine down that works for my cloth diapers – and – in my opinion, takes the least amount of time. In sharing this I hope I can help out some fellow new cloth diaper-ers (did I mention I used to be an English teacher?) so you’ll know what to do from the very start, rather than creating a cesspool in your bathroom sink like me. Mommybrain FTW.

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Everything you need to know about how to wash and care for your cloth diapers! Don't make the same mistakes I did - check out this post to make sure you're using the right detergents and laundry cycles! Click for all the info.


How to Wash & Care For Cloth Diapers

Step 1: Coffee first. Always.

Step 1 (for real): Get a hands-free trash can. We use this Simple Human one we got years ago as an engagement gift.

Step 2: Get a washable pail liner. We use this Rumparooz one and you can throw it right into the wash with the diapers.

Step 3: Get a cloth diaper sprayer. This is the one we use. Eric hooked it up to the toilet in about 5 minutes. Then spray that poop away and store the diaper in your already set-up pail liner. See how having a plan works, Marla? Some sites say to leave the lid open to let the diapers breathe. I say that makes my house smell like pee.

What I’ve gathered is that you’ll want to wash your diapers about every 3 days so they don’t get supernasty. We don’t have enough diapers to last more than that, so 3 days it is!

Step 4: Check yourself, before you wreck your diapers. Yep. I said it. A girl I met in a mommy group told me about Fluff Love University’s website. They’ll tell you which detergents are safe to use, and also, how to wash your diapers according to which machine you have.

After accidentally using ECOS a few times (who knew it had Fabric Softener in it? Oh wait, it says it on the label!) I consulted Fluff Love’s site and literally went right back out to Publix and bought Seventh Generation Free & Clear Ultra Power Plus. I try to do what’s right for the Earth and stuff. I can’t tell you how much detergent I use because I seriously don’t measure. I just pour a little in ‘til it looks right.

Step 5: Laundry day. Side note: before having a baby, Eric & I did our laundry about once a week. Now? If a day goes by that I don’t do laundry, I take a deep breath and have an extra cup of coffee, because you know what? I’ve earned it.

Ready for the wash/dry routine? Here we go.

If you use pocket diapers, make sure the inserts are separated from the shells – best to do when tossing them in the pail in the first place.

Then throw all the diapers (pee and poo) into the machine with your pail liner.

Run a pre-wash cycle with a little cloth-safe detergent (mine is called Quick Wash). Cold Water. High Spin. Heavy Soil. This is so there isn’t a ton of poop in your main wash cycle. 

how to wash and care for your cloth diapers

Then when that fancy little tune plays to let you know they’re done, open the drum, and throw in a Dapple Laundry Booster Pod. Maybe I’m behind the times, but I just discovered these and so far, they have helped to strip the diapers of the pee-stink. Add a little bit more detergent, too.

how to wash and care for your cloth diapers

Run a Heavy Duty cycle on Hot.High.Heavy. Now most cloth diaper labels will say to only run a warm wash, but I’m all about killing germs, so hot water it is. My diapers are doing just fine, thank you, sir. Some sites say to add an extra rinse, some don’t. I add it if I feel the diapers need to get extra clean.

how to wash and care for your cloth diapers

After they’re all clean, I run them on Tumble Dry Extra Low for 60 minutes. We used to air dry, but then one day when I walked into my kitchen and the table and chairs were covered in cloth diapers, I said, enough is enough, and threw them in the dryer. I suppose a drying rack would work great too, but I need less to do in my life.

So there you have it. If I can save one mommy out there the frustration that comes with getting cloth diapering down to a science, while, you know, caring for your little human, then I’d say that’s a win.

Note: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. I only link to and recommend products that I love and actually use myself. 

What tips & tricks have you discovered while cloth diapering?


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  • Reply
    Savannah (@HowHesRaised)
    July 9, 2016 at 2:19 PM

    Haha, this was hilarious!
    I’ve been cloth diapering now for 15 months, and I love it soo much! I, too, went through the crazy phase where I had NO idea what I was doing, but when my diapers started smelling like a barnyard-even AFTER I washed them, I got really concerned. I actually almost even gave it up. But Fluff Love University saved me! Your routine looks very similar to mine (: Thanks for sharing <3

    • Reply
      July 9, 2016 at 7:27 PM

      Thank you! I figured I would at least try to save another new mom the hassle of trying to figure it all out from scratch! For something that seems pretty simple, there’s actually a lot to know!

  • Reply
    September 8, 2016 at 9:05 AM

    I don´t use cloth diapers but still it was great to read this article… thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    Simplify Cloth Diapering With These 5 Genius Tips - Because I Said So Baby
    October 23, 2017 at 7:39 PM

    […] Here’s the thing. If you want your cloth diapers to last you a long time, and possibly through multiple kids, then you need to take excellent care of them, which means a regular washing routine done the correct way. […]

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